Reality vs. Expectations

posted in Parenting Challenges, Writing on by with 2 Replies

I haven’t been writing for a little while.  Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t; I’m sure you have better things to do than wonder about when I’m going to put up a new post, but I still feel like I should try to explain.

I have lots of ideas.  They usually pop into my head and float around for a while and either fizzle out or become so demanding that I have to write them out of my head and onto the computer screen.  (It would sound a lot more poetic to say “onto paper” but it just wouldn’t make sense.  I don’t write on paper.  Well, only lame things like lists that include “baby wipes” and “frozen peas – the good kind.”)  So anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I had this big idea that was actually a few smaller, related ideas that I really wanted to make into a piece of writing.  I was excited about it.  I thought, this is gonna be good.  I can feel it.

But it didn’t happen.

It wasn’t like in college when I’d procrastinate for absolutely as long as possible before sitting down to write and then get mad at the universe when something went wrong.  This time, I wanted more than anything to write.  I was inspired.  I got some work done on it one day while the girls were all napping and then put it aside.  The next day, something came to me, a line or two, or an image, I don’t really remember, but I wanted to write it down right away, even though I was in the middle of doing lunch with the three kids.  So I grabbed my laptop and started typing away, trying to capture whatever idea I had.  The girls were being pretty good so I wrote a little more.  I made a bunch of edits and rearranged things I’d already written.  Wow, I thought.  Now it’s really getting somewhere!  It’s so much better with these new edits than it was yesterday!

And then I got distracted.  Because duh, I had two toddlers and a baby all eating lunch.  They dropped a spoon or needed more water or someone took someone else’s bib and the world was crashing down around us all.

So I did something wrong and all my fresh edits and new ideas were not saved.

I disproportionately lost my shit.

I was so angry.  So full of frustrated rage that I didn’t know what to do with.  Who could I get mad at?  Who could I punch in the face?  Whose fault was this?

There was no one to blame.  No satisfaction of raging against a “loathed enemy.”  It was just a crappy thing that happened that wasn’t really that huge of a deal.  But for me, in that moment, ALL of my recent frustration got to me.

It took me days to figure it out, but I did, at last, determine why I got so angry.

I was angry because I felt insignificant, unimportant, untalented and just really, really tired.

Parenting is so damn hard.  It just is.  There’s nothing to be done about the hardness of it.  You just have to accept that it’s going to be hard and power through.  But lately, I’ve been getting crushed under an avalanche of potty training and whining and testing limits and timeouts.  And barking dogs and poopy diapers and a never-ending stream of dirty dishes.  I barely have time to drink a cup of coffee or brush my teeth, so I don’t know why I thought I could work on some writing.  And that, I think, is what was killing me.

I wanted to write something that proved I was significant, important, and talented.  I wanted to defy the tiredness and harness the creative energy while it was there within my grasp.  I wanted to write something in the moment, while the idea was fresh and I was just feeling it, you know?

I have been a parent now for over two years, but I haven’t yet learned how to regulate my expectations.  I don’t mean my expectations of the kids, but my expectations of myself and of being able to do things that I want to do.  They say that happiness is only possible when your reality is equal to your expectations.  I think that makes sense.  But that day, my reality and my expectations were way out of sync.  I tried to make something that was just about me a higher priority than stuff that was about the kids.  And it still frustrates me that it’s so ridiculously hard for that to ever happen.  I know that in choosing to become a mother, I’ve made the choice to sacrifice all sorts of things for the good of my children, and most of the time that’s fine.  It really is.  Until some days it just isn’t.  I try so hard to be grateful for everything I have and to be the best mom I can to my kids, but some days I just fail.  Hard.

So I haven’t been feeling funny for a while.  Or inspired.  Or even the least bit interesting.  Because things have been hard.  I think I’m starting to feel a little bit better, and I think I’m ready to try to write some more now, but I’m not totally sure.

During my break from writing, the good news is that I read a couple of great books and one stunningly beautiful, breathtakingly genius book.  So I’ll have some new book reviews up soon.  And then, who knows?  Maybe I’ll finally write that piece that knocked me on my ass for a few weeks.  We’ll just have to see.  I’m making up this being-a-mom-and-a-blogger thing as I go along.  Thanks for being here for the ride.